George Hawkins in hospital on a ventilator
Just two weeks after Hackney Homes forced a sick epileptic boy out of his home despite doctors’ warnings the upheaval could trigger life-threatening fits, he is fighting for his life in hospital.
George Hawkins, 16, who suffers from degenerative autistic condition Dravet Syndrome, began having unusual seizure activity and spasms last Saturday, but stopped breathing and turned blue after taking a dose of Midazalam, an emergency medication to stop seizures, the following night.
He has spent the last few days on a ventilator in the Royal London Hospital, and doctors are trying out various strong drugs to control his fits – which have still not worked to bring them under control.
His mum Debbie Hawkins said he stopped breathing 10 times before ambulance crew arrived on Sunday.
“I really thought I had lost him,” she said.
“George has not had to be ventilated since he was three-years old, so this whole episode from seizures to stopping breathing is not normal for him.
“Although I could never prove it I’m sure all the upheaval and confusion has caused this, but this has happened 100 times worse than any of us expected.”
Mrs Hawkins believes living in four different places within the space of two weeks triggered George’s fits, and is angry with Hackney Homes for ignoring doctors’ advice and evicting the family.
Jon Wheater, director of care and family services at Richard House children’s hospice, where George sometimes stays for respite care, had written to Hackney Homes warning: “George needs stable surroundings as the likelihood of increased seizures and challenging behaviours will increase over periods of change and will very likely lead to him requiring higher levels of supervision, medication re-assessment and more direct care.”
He added: “I know from my senior staff members supporting George over this stressful period that he is becoming more anxious and we are assessing his stability and number of seizures.”
And Adelaida Martinez, consultant paediatric neurologist from the Royal London Hospital who has cared for George since he was a toddler, had told them: “George has intractable epilepsy, severe global developmental delay, severe behavioural problems and also the risk of being aggressive. If there are any changes to his daily routine, he could have increased seizure frequency and anger outbursts.”
She continued: “I am aware of the tenancy rules that the borough has but I feel this is the time when the rules need to be able to accommodate people who are in desperate need of a stable home.
“I would very much appreciate if all of the above is taken into consideration and the family is allowed to remain at the maternal family home.”
The family was evicted on Tuesday May 7, but just three days after the Gazette contacted Hackney Homes about the situation, a suitable home was found for the Hawkins family, and they moved in on Thursday May 16.
But by that time George had spent time in four different properties within the space of two weeks – his old family home in Upper Clapton, Richard House children’s hospice, the temporary accommodation in Forest Road once funding for the hospice ran out, and then the new home.
“When we got keys to new house and I felt I sigh of relief thinking the nightmare was over. Little did I know that my nightmare was about to begin only 48 hours,” said Ms Hawkins.
“I have absolutely no energy left at the moment. I just can’t get over what is happening.
“My younger children are being passed round to friends and family while I’m here.
“It really is like watching someone else’s life fall apart then suddenly realising, “Oh no it’s my life that its happening to.””
Bureaucratic rules meant Ms Hawkins and her three children were told to leave the council home her parents had inhabited for the last 40 years in Morton Close, Upper Clapton, after her father’s death two years ago.
Hackney Homes’ rules do not allow her to take over her father’s tenancy.
The family was entitled to a larger four-bedroom council property, and Hackney Council insisted that they needed to vacate their current home and move into temporary accommodation until a suitable house with disabled access became available.
A faulty heating system operating at full blast at the temporary accommodation in Forest Road meant the family had to be split up, with George staying at Richard House because his fits can also be triggered by heat.
A spokesman for Hackney Homes said their thoughts were with George and his family.
The arms-length housing management organisation has apologised and is now reviewing what went wrong.